Clinton County Poor Farm

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Clinton County Poor Farm
Opened 1857
Current Status Demolished
Building Style Single Building
Location Clinton, IA
Alternate Names
  • Clinton County Poor Farm and Insane Asylum
  • Parkview Home


From the he History of Clinton County, 1879 by L. P. Allen

"For many years after the settlement of the county, pauperism was practically unknown. None were rich and none were dependent, except in case of especial “bad luck,” upon their neighbors for favors freely granted and reciprocated. Among the real pioneers were none shiftless or “freckless-” enough to become a charge upon the community. But as the county began to fill up and the pinch of 1857 began to be felt, it became evident that the inevitable provision of civilized communities for the indigent would have to be promptly made.

Accordingly in 1857, a “poor farm” of 200 acres, at $20 per acre, located in Waterford and Washington Townships, besides sixty additional acres of timber were purchased. John McElhatton was appointed Superintendent, and held the position till succeeded four years ago by the present incumbent, John Blessington.

At first, for some time, four to five was the average number of inmates of the Poorhouse, and none were considered an extraordinary crowd. But since the war pauperism has in this county, as elsewhere, rapidly increased, till the average number maintained at the county charge is about thirty, and no less than forty-six have at some times been boarded at the poor-farm. The healthful site, energetic yet considerate management and careful supervision have maintained the institution on a basis, both from a humantarian and business point of view, eminently creditable to Clinton County, especially when compared with the inhuman and unhealthy surroundings of many poorhouses.

The increase of insanity has necessitated additional provision for the county’s incurable lunatics. They are no longer received at the State Asylum at Mount Pleasant, and in the absence of proper local accommodation, have hitherto been maintained in Mercy Hospital, at Davenport, at a cost much above the actual expense of keeping them in suitable local quarters. Hence, the present Board, Supervisors Ruus, Lake and Svendsen, wisely determined to build an in asylum suitable for the present and future needs of the county, as a measure of both humanity and economy. It is now under construction and will be completed during 1879. W. W. Sanborn furnished the plans, embodying the results of the most recent investigations in both this country and Europe, as to the proper economic and sanitary arrangement of buildings occupied by imbeciles or defectives.

The asylum will be three stories high, solidly built of brick and stone, and costing about $5,000. It admirably combines the features of a hospital dwelling and prison. A large yard for the inmates’ exercise-ground surrounds it. The rooms and cells contain twenty-five persons, and, at the present rate of increase of such unfortunates, it will probably not be long before it will be crowded to its utmost capacity, as some time ago fifteen incurables were, by the change in the Mount Pleasant system, thrown back upon the county’s charge.

For some time the pernicious custom of allowing children to be associated with the idle and depraved at the county house, has been practically abandoned. Those who would formerly have naturally been contaminated by association with paupers, are now paternally cared for by Supt. Pierce at the beneficent Orphan’s Home at Davenport, where they are trained to become useful men and women.

If, under the charitable spirit of the nineteenth century, a community’s civilization is measured by the judicious care taken of its defectives and paupers, Clinton County need not hesitate to invite comparison with any similar commonwealth. The contract system of boarding paupers has been replaced by the better one of paying the Steward a fixed salary. Recently the propriety of adding a needed hospital to the other county buildings has been agitated.

From Wolfe's 1911 History of Clinton County

Improvements have been made, from time to time, on the county farm, by erecting the necessary buildings, etc. From the December 31, 1909 report of the superintendent of the farm to the board of county supervisors, the following is shown: Amount of corn raised, two thousand eight hundred bushels; oats, one thousand two hundred bushels; potatoes, five hundred bushels; tame hay, forty tons. A total was sold from the farm in 1909, of four thousand seven hundred and thirty-three dollars and eighteen cents.

For the same year, there were received twenty-four inmates; nine died; left and discharged, eighteen; total enrollment for 1909, four hundred and sixty-two inmates. In the insane department of the county farm there were on January 1, 1909, twenty-eight inmates; received during that year, one; died in the year, four; in asylum January 1, 1910, twenty-nine -- males thirteen, and females sixteen. This method of caring for the unfortunate poor and demented has proven all that was claimed for it. The institution is now almost self-sustaining. The inmates are cared for in a humane manner, and all are provided with good wholesome food and warm, clean apartments, with the best of common medical attendance.